College Poised To Create Education Studies Dual Major

By Amelia Pollard

The Education Studies (EDST) program has proposed a new double major, intended to compensate students’ work towards obtaining teaching licensures with academic validation. Currently, the Education Studies (EDST) program only offers a minor, which students can take in one of two directions: a focus on general education studies or the attainment of a formal teaching license.

The Education Studies Program has for years enabled Middlebury students to obtain teaching licenses in the State of Vermont. The program has won popularity for its ability to provide insight into education as a discipline and how the system functions in America.

Although students are fortunate that Middlebury offers an education minor, the current system requires those who are pursuing teaching licenses to take 13 courses in elementary education or 12 courses in secondary education. These parameters exceed what is asked of most majors at the College, leading administrators to conclude that the demands do not fit the program’s status as a minor.

Headed by Director Jonathan Miller-Lane, the EDST program has drafted a proposal that creates a double major, with Education Studies and another discipline of the student’s choice, as the most advantageous way for students to fulfill the teaching license requirements.

The proposal was brought to the attention of the entire faculty on April 7 at the Faculty Plenary meeting, when the Educational Affairs Committee, a six-member body responsible for the direction of the undergraduate curriculum, endorsed the program after months of consideration.

At the meeting, the committee provided a summary of the agenda, stating that it embraced “the idea of training students as teachers” and of “recognizing education as a discipline worthy of scholarly pursuit.”

The proposition of an EDST double-major has now finally passed the first stage in the process of garnering support. Next comes a vote by the entire faculty, expected later this year.

“The committee studied it over several months, requested additional information, met with representatives of the program, and determined that the proposal merited their support,” said Suzanne Gurland, the dean of curriculum and chair of the Educational Affairs Committee. “The full faculty will have the opportunity to discuss the proposal at an open meeting, and then to vote on it at a subsequent faculty meeting.”

The interdisciplinary double-major will first become available to first-years arriving fall 2017, assuming the proposal is passed at the next faculty meeting. The double-major is aimed only at students who are pursuing an elementary- or secondary-education teacher’s license. The minor in education will still be available for those who are interested in the field, but are not aspiring to teach. Education Studies, however, would not be available as a stand-alone major.

Students who opt to participate in the double-major must still enroll in a “professional semester” as was previously required with the minor. This involves a full-time teaching experience in a local school, which students may choose to do either during their senior year or during a ninth semester after graduation. This professional requirement enables students to gain real-life experience in teaching, under the guidance of a “master teacher” and a College advisor.

“The depth of students’ learning in the licensure curriculum is akin to that in other majors, and involves substantially more coursework than a minor,” Gurland said. “So if the proposal for a double-major passes, it will be a more accurate description of students’ learning.”